Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Rejection and Uncle Conrad

Whenever I get a string of short story rejections, I think about my Great Uncle Conrad. He grew up near Astoria, Oregon; the son of Norwegian potato farmers.

He spent a large portion of his life translating the Bible into a Native American language. The rejection letter from the publisher he sent his translation to went something like this: "Thank you for this manuscript, it is obviously a work of devotion. Unfortunately, the language you have translated the Bible into is a synthetic language, a mish-mash of several native tongues used in the environs of Fort Clatsop as a kind of trade language to enable fur-trappers and fort personnel to speak with different local tribes. It was in use for only about twenty years. I'm afraid your translation has no market value, being an object of curiosity and interest to a narrow niche of language specialists."

I am sure there's a metaphor (and a cautionary tale) in there, somewhere.
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